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Megapixels & Camera Phones 323

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
CEmongler writes "Consumer Electronics publication CoolTechZone.com tackles the integrated camera attachments in today's cell phones. According to the author, "The camera integration has in fact reached such a stage that any self-respecting phone would incorporate at least a megapixel camera. The cutting-edge feature to have though is the 2-megapixel variety. The question is: is it really worth the extra money you pay for it? Without getting into model-by-model comparisons, I am questioning the entire range of 2-megapixel camera phones. Are they really worth it? For the most part, no."
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Megapixels & Camera Phones

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:13AM (#15112899) Homepage Journal
    Look, the number of pixels is simply not as important as the optical properties of the system. I've seen better pictures come out of a four megapixel (MP) camera with better lenses than those that come out of a seven MP camera with poorer quality optics. So, if your lenses allow clean transmission of light without chromatic aberration and little to no change to the fidelity of the image, then you will have better images than just simply bumping up the MP count through commodity CCDs.

    This of course is what the phone manufacturers are doing, buying commodity CCDs because that is what is being made. It is cheaper for them to spend an extra dollar or two on a higher MP count CCD rather than putting the development dollars on improving the user experience, interface or infrastructure.

    This of course is because people respond to higher MP counts in the same way they like "bling". "Ooooh shiny things!" Come-on people! Put some effort into purchasing quality products that demand a bit more work and are functional for longer periods of time instead of purchasing things that you throw away after only a short time. It shows you are more discriminating, pushes companies to produce better products, is easier on the environment and gives you better quality goods that help to improve your life rather than clutter it up with junk.

    • by castoridae (453809) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:17AM (#15112916)
      This of course is because people respond to higher MP counts in the same way they like "bling".

      Just like processor MHz when buying computer systems. It's a rough guide to speed, but there are other (often more important) factors. But it's so much easier to rate & quantize things when you can just pick a number and say bigger is better.
      • Yeah, you are so right. To use the classic car analogy, most non-geek users (and even some geek users!) tend to see CPU speed as an indication of "top speed"; in reality it is more like "break horse power" -- to be sure, it IS important, but there are just many other factors to take into account before you can arrive at any quantization of "speed".

        It's the same with digital cameras ... quality != pixel count all by itself, but quality == (pixel count + optics + storage speed + weight + size + firmare featur
        • Old Argument (Score:3, Informative)

          by severoon (536737)
          Us photographers have already had this argument dozens of times over dSLR vs. pocket camera (and a phone camera is the ultimate pocket camera). The problem with non-dSLRs is not the MP, nor is it necessarily the optics. The limiting factor is the chip size. No tiny camera phone is going to achieve a low-noise image because the photosites on the sensor are packed so close together. These cameras will never be serious for picture taking until technology provides a high-dynamic range, noise-free image from a t
      • Absolutely. This isn't just a "bling" desire, it is people's natural need to be able to compare things and numbers make it easy. It is why people are driven to put dollar values on everything whether it makes sense or not. See which your boss likes more, a "3 is bigger than 2" or "well, it depends" answer. It is a lot harder to compare picture quality without analyzing side-by-side images and asking questions about the conditions they were taken under, etc. AMD faced the same issue with their CPUs when
      • yea, but imagine trying to explain "MIPS" and pipeline and L1/2/3 Cache to a common-joe... =)

        or even better....Best Buy listing the SpecInt and SpecFP of all the comps, and tell consumers to use that number instead of MHz/RAM.
    • I've seen better pictures come out of a four megapixel (MP) camera with better lenses than those that come out of a seven MP camera with poorer quality optics.

      I had an older Kodak 5MP camera that was replaced (by gift) in September with a 7.2 MP camera. While the Kodak was older, clunkier, and didn't have as many megapixels, it still took better photos than the new camera which had a great review [dpreview.com] on the Digital Photography Review. I've seriously thought about going back to the older camera :(

      As far as ph
    • Just as digital cameras made it cheaper to just casually take pictures of things because you didn't have to pay for development, having a camera phone makes it more convenient. I don't think anyone is really going to be using the things for real photography (although the article author seems to think so). The author argues against 2MP phones, but the argument seems divided between saying that all camera phones are without merit, or that 2MP offers little to no advantage over 1MP. The latter is simply techno
      • I have one, but almost never use it. It is nice to know it is there, in case I need to take pictures for insurance purposes (like of the aftermath of an auto wreck).
        The times I have used it have been to "talk" to my wife, like before Thanksgiving she sent me to buy a Turkey, and I couldn't decide so I took pictures of two of them, and sent them to her and she told me which one to get.
        Perhaps the turkey story isn't as interesting as having a camera just in case you see some bare breasts.. but hey...
    • by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:42AM (#15113071) Homepage
      Yes, it's partly the optics. Mainly it is the size of the imaging sensor, though - or to be more precise, the size of the individual sensor sites. Smaller sensor and higher resolution both mean smaller sites, and smaller sites mean more noise.

      In the end, you will not be able to ever get the same quality out from a tiny unit like on a camera phone as you get from an APS-sized fixed-lens or SLR-type one.

      That said, I have both a DSLR and a 1.2Mp cameraphone and they both have their uses. The DSLR is more important of course, but I would not want to be without the cameraphone either. Even though I drag the big camera around most of the time, I still now and then find myself in situations where I didn't have it, or taking it out would have taken too long and drawn too much attention, or I just wanted to send a picture of something to my SO, and going via DSLR, computer and email was at least two steps too many and half a day too slow.
      • Even though I drag the big camera around most of the time,

        LOL, yes indeed. Me too.

        I still now and then find myself in situations where I didn't have it, or taking it out would have taken too long and drawn too much attention, or I just wanted to send a picture of something to my SO, and going via DSLR, computer and email was at least two steps too many and half a day too slow.

        I carry around a small digital camera (Elph, but I'm looking at one of those super thin Sonys) with me for those times too as the qu
    • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:46AM (#15113095)
      It's about EASY. I have a camera phone. It was free with my contract. It has a 2MP camera. I take it with me everywhere because it's my phone, so if I see something I want to snap, I can. Camera phones are not for people that want artistic or even "good" pictures. What they take is memories and reminders, things otherwise forgotten, not art. So get off your damn high horse. Of course it would be great if they managed to fit a DSLR quality camera system inside a phone. FOr now they can't and the products are STILL great, and within the budget of most people here in the UK.
      • I've had tons of fun playing around with my 2MP camera phone. The image quality is bad and any light source in the field of vision will lead to overexponated images. Does that mean I can't take artistic images? Not at all. By knowing the weaknesses of the camera I can use them to my advantage.

        Using crappy equipment is loads of fun.
      • "Camera phones are not for people that want artistic or even "good" pictures."

        wouldn't be so sure about that. what if crappy cams like the one on your phone are the lomo of the future? [flickr.com]
    • This of course is because people respond to higher MP counts in the same way they like "bling". "Ooooh shiny things!" Come-on people! Put some effort into purchasing quality products that demand a bit more work and are functional for longer periods of time instead of purchasing things that you throw away after only a short time. It shows you are more discriminating, pushes companies to produce better products, is easier on the environment and gives you better quality goods that help to improve your life rat
    • A lot of it is the fact that these cameras on the cell phones use cheap-ass plastic lenses, while your standard stand-alone camera will have a glass lens. Maybe a cheap glass lens, but it'll still run circles around the plastic crap in the cell phone. Until they start bothering to put in something of a real lens in these phones, a 640x480 pic on a glass-lens camera will still look tons better than a 1280x1024 pic off a plastic-lens cell phone.
    • High-megapixel CCDs are going to become commonplace in phones for the simple reason that they cost so little to include. And the optics will never be better than snapshot-grade, because that would add significantly to the cost (and size). My brother-in-law does patent work in Motorola's phone division, and he says that it'll soon be nearly impossible to buy a phone without an integrated camera. It's already gone from being a gee-whiz selling point to differentiate a product from its competitors, to a che
    • If the companies get their shit together, maybe we'll get a situation where normal digital cameras can use a cellphone as a modem (maybe using 802.11g or the new wide-band bluetooth standard) to connect and send photos via 3G services, rather than having the phone on the camera, which is always going to be a compromise.

      At the very least we should be able to send the photo to the phone for viewing, or take the card from the camera and put it into the phone for viewing and sending, as is the case with Sony
  • by Disavian (611780) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:13AM (#15112904) Homepage
    Who really takes their digicam with them everywhere they go? I know I don't.
    • [blockquote]Who really takes their digicam with them everywhere they go? I know I don't.[/blockquote]

      Slashbots that think the proper attire is one specialized device for each function needed (one mp3 player, one phone, one pda, one digicam...)? Just wait and read here... Should be the +5 posts.
      • Slashbots that think the proper attire is one specialized device for each function needed (one mp3 player, one phone, one pda, one digicam...)?

        Well I think the point is that the cameras built into phones - even with much-touted improvements - are still pretty crappy cameras in the grand scheme & so you *still* need to have a seperate digicam along with the phone. Why have one in the phone? If the phone's camera were good enough to be a primary camera then I agree with you - why have two devices when
        • Remember when 1.3 MP digicams were the norm? People (OK, early adopters at least) used those as their primary camera - the resolution was good enough to use for standard-size prints. I had one (Olympus C-860) for years, until I got a new phone with 2MP autofocus camera. Apart from the bump up in res., the image quality (especially in macro mode) is better also.

          It's used as my primary camera. For people of limited finances, not able to afford a EOS 350 or something, they work just fine.

          Example: A rose - macr [deviantart.com]
    • Amateur photographers. People who like to take pictures.
    • I don't take mine everywhere but if I have my laptop bag with me (12" iBook) then I probably have my 8MP camera too.

      and if I don't have my laptop but I think I might want to take some photos then it's small enough to go in my jacket pocket too.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:41AM (#15113062) Homepage
      Who really takes their digicam with them everywhere they go?

      I do.. I go farther. I carry a Fuji S3 and a couple of lenses EVERYWHERE.

      Why? because you never know when something will happen and you can bethe only guy with a photo of it. I sold 4 photos to a local news outlet of the Immigration Demonstrations from 2 days ago I made enough to pay for more camera gear.

      My hobby pays for it's self because I have the camera with me at all times. Some people with pocket point ans shoots were the ONLY people to get a photo of the Plane crashing into the WTC and other historic events that can only be captured by having a camera on hand.

      Take photos all the time and you will end up with some that are easily saleable to news outlets.
      • The sad thing is that nowadays if it is not filmed, it did not happen.
    • Who needs to take a photo of something everywhere they go? I know I don't.

      If I'm going somewhere where I'll want pictures to remind me of it later, I bring a proper camera. If I'm out in town, I don't need a camera. It's that simple - there is *nothing* out-and-about in town that I would want a camera for, especially a low-quality PoS camera. Yes, I know they get used to take pictures in pubs, and I wonder how many of those cameras survive longer than a couple of months with owners like that. If you ne
  • by Dysfnctnl85 (690109) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:17AM (#15112921)
    I did not own a digital camera up until this xmas, and it was a gift. I purchased my w800i because it's sort of a MacGyver-esk tool used for pictures, music, and communication.

    Since I prefer film vs digital, I thought it would be nice to consolidate tools into one device that I have on me all the time. It has proved to be a good investment, despite the $400 investment. The premium price I paid has a lot to do with markets and such, but those aside, the phone fits its niche in my life and it's always convenient to have a camera on you at all times.

    Most phones available in the US have really crappy cameras, but the w800i is an exception.
    • unles its made with a pack of chewing gum, string, can of raid, and a wire, you cant call it MacGyver-esk :p.
    • "Since I prefer film vs digital..."

      That comment alone disqualifies your opinion.
      • The convenience of digital exceeds the convenience of film and therefore a compromise must be made seeing as how I cannot carry my SLR everywhere I go.

        This is where the cameraphone finds its niche.

        If I was saying that digital *quality* was crap, I can see where my comments would be unfounded, but seeing that I'm not, it doesn't make sense to discount my comments...
  • by vidarlo (134906) <vidarlo.bitsex@net> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:18AM (#15112925) Homepage

    And why? Because the optics still sucks. I guess there ain't enough space for a good camera inside a phone, because the optics ain't small enough. While the ccd or cmos sensor is small enough, it needs good optics to give good quality.

    Say you've got the good optics, and a decent sensor... A ccd uses more power than a cmos, and needs more light. A cmos however, gives lots of artifacts (noise) in the picture, but performs better in low-ligt conditions, and needs less power.

    • CMOS sensor - low power, low light level needed, but artifacts (noise) in the picture
    • CCD sensor - powerhungry, needs good lgiht, good quality

    Ok, so we go for a ccd. Then we need a good flash, which takes even more power. Power which has to come from a capacitor since a battery can't deliver high enough voltage and enough current fast enough. A capacitor and flash takes up space.

    In short, if we want small phones, we won't get decent image quality. If we can accept a phone twice as big as the ones we have, we can just bundle together a normal compact camera and a phone...

    • The one megapixel camera in my Motorola V635 takes pictures that are "good enough" - that is, it replaced my 3 megapixel Kodak, and while the image quality wasn't quite as good, it was barely noticable in the majority of cases. I went around New York for my honeymoon, taking pictures all over the place. My wife, who had a 3 megapixel Kodak of her own, also went around taking pictures with that. Frequently my pictures turned out better. Rarely were my pictures worse than what you'd get with a disposable. I s
    • by AmigaAvenger (210519) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:02AM (#15113230) Journal
      Just one thing to point out, every single high end Canon digital SLR camera uses CMOS sensors. (at least the lower end up to prosumer slr's do, can't afford to buy a pro canon digital so I haven't bothered investigating them, but I'm fairly sure they are cmos also)

      CMOS CAN be result in quality that surpasses CCD, all while using far lower power and generating much less heat.

  • Problematic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Erwos (553607) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:18AM (#15112931)
    The whole "cameras in cell phones" craze is starting to cause some problems for me. Many DoD installations do not let you take camera phones onsite. This has the effect of severely limiting my cell phone choices, so that I'm stuck with "crackberry" or "super cheap", neither of which is terribly appealing. What happened to a nice, mid-range phone with no camera? It's not even that I don't like a camera integrated into it - it's just not an option for me. This insanity is even starting to creep into PDA phones - witness the Treo 650's digital camera, for instance.

    It's gotten to the point where I'm thinking of switching from Sprint to Nextel, just because Nextel's phones actually seem more reasonable for my (and my wife's) usage. Interestingly, the Sprint rep I spoke with said I could do this, and they even had a group for going from Sprint -> Nextel!

    -Erwos
    • It's not even that I don't like a camera integrated into it - it's just not an option for me. This insanity is even starting to creep into PDA phones - witness the Treo 650's digital camera, for instance.

      It's gotten to the point where I'm thinking of switching from Sprint to Nextel, just because Nextel's phones actually seem more reasonable for my (and my wife's) usage. Interestingly, the Sprint rep I spoke with said I could do this, and they even had a group for going from Sprint -> Nextel!

      First of

      • Re:Problematic (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stecoop (759508) *
        First off, the Treo is also available in a non-camera flavor.

        As a sprint consumer, I would like to inform you that Spring Mobile Phone Corporation doesn't offer a Treo without a camera. Furthermore, Sprint will not activate your phone unless it has a Sprint stamp on it.

        Second, the talk of switching from Sprint to Nextel is going to be a lost one soon enough. Sprint has talked about how they are going to switch all voice traffic to their CDMA network and use the iDEN for PTT only. Thus, the lines will conve
    • Many DoD installations do not let you take camera phones onsite.

      Jeez, it's not just camera phones. Some installations practically make you strip down and leave *all* "devices" at the security gate. Laptops, PDAs, USBkeys, cell phones, even wrist watches are required to be removed. It's amazing how much electronic stuff we routinely haul around with us and it's not until you have to start paying attention to it that it strikes you how dependent we have become on it. You think "How in the hell am I goin
    • Re:Problematic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:05AM (#15113249) Homepage
      WE solved that here.
      you can purchase special tamper detection stickers that can be placed over the cellphone's camera optics. if it is removed it will visibly damage the sticker. ( I tried several ways of trying to get it off, short of treating your camera lens with silicone first you cant keep it from making the tell-tale marks on the sticker)

      when you check in you get the sticker applied, when you leave your phone is inspected and the sticker removed. If you tampered with the sticker you are pretty much hosed.

      Works well, most people simply leave their phone at the securit desk, those that "MUST" have their phone, have to go through this and read the riot act twice as to what will happen if the sticker is found damaged.

      99% of people really do not need their cellphone in a secure area.
    • > The whole "cameras in cell phones" craze is starting to cause some problems for me. Many DoD installations do not let you take camera phones onsite.

      I've never gotten the logic of this position, who is it that you trust enough to be physically present but not enough not to take any pictures ? If you are worried about the person taking pictures, it implies that the person is not being chaperoned while in the facility. It seems to me that if the person can be trusted to work or visit the location, they co
      • I've never gotten the logic of this position, who is it that you trust enough to be physically present but not enough not to take any pictures?

        Keep honest men honest. You trust these people enough for them to work there, but nobody's perfect. Every man has his price; some bribe, or blackmail, or threat, which will make him turn traitor.

        Very well; let us suppose you work in the secret weapons facility, with your camera phone, trusted not to photograph anything. Should you decide to become a spy, it would

    • I think Nokia adresses this issue with their new 2610 [nokia.de] line.

      It has everything but the kitchen sink and cam.
      Sorry, I only found the german link, therefore this item might not be available in the US... ;-/
    • The whole "cameras in cell phones" craze is starting to cause some problems for me. Many DoD installations do not let you take camera phones onsite. This has the effect of severely limiting my cell phone choices, so that I'm stuck with "crackberry" or "super cheap", neither of which is terribly appealing. What happened to a nice, mid-range phone with no camera?

      I couldn't agree more. I don't want a camera phone. I don't want one which plays MP3s. I don't want one which can let me surf the web. I don't wa

      • Amen brother! I want a PHONE. I want a Phone that gives good sound. I want a phone that I don't have to hold in a really strange position for the other party to be able to hear me clearly. I want a phone that gets good signal. Use the power and CCA real-estate to add some extra power/amp/whatever (disclaimer: IANA RF Engineer, and don't know if this is feasible).

        I don't want a camera. I don't want an MP3 player. I don't want email. I don't want web. I don't want AIM. I don't want SMS.

        I want a FRIGG
    • The samsung i730 pda phone is a great phone without a camera. A little big, and runs windows ce (which could be a - if you're a linux guy), but it is a swiss army knife of phones. It essentially replaced my ipod and gameboy while traveling short places.
    • Why not just open up your phone and yank out the lens/sensor assembly?

      I've opened up my phone before, to poke around & you can literally unplug the camera & pull it out. Mine isn't secured in any way that would prevent this & I imagine other phones are similarly made.

      Fill in the resulting hole with the appropriate color of silicone sealant or caulk, smooth it out and you should be good to go. Should be a reversible process in case you ever have warranty issues.

      The perfect phone for you vs. a lit
  • by AnswerIs42 (622520) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:19AM (#15112936) Homepage
    Is that camera phones are banned from most work places, fitness clubs and I have just notice at some local movie theaters.. even there (cell phone use for movie piracy I guess?).

    You have any idea how hard it is getting to find a good phone with all the features you want.. and NOT have a camera attached to it? You almost have to go to Nextel as they seem to be about the only cell company that doesn't have every phone be camera enabled.

    I ended up having to get a camera phone just so I could have some of the features I wanted (mainly bluetooth) and found a case that fits the phone that covers over the camera eye. Good enough to get past the rent-a-cop security.

    • My parents called while I was in the locker room last week, and somehow the act of flipping the phone open looked suspicious to the gentleman shaving quite naked at the mirror nearby.

      One of the black-clad trainers arrived to investigate my suspicious phone answering shortly thereafter. Had to scroll him through my few snaps to show him nothing was amiss. Still, he kept my phone safely behind the counter until I was ready to go. Reclaiming the phone later was plenty embarrassing.

      (Personally I would prefe

    • by Mantorp (142371) * <mantorp 'funny A' gmail.com> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:40AM (#15113054) Homepage Journal
      banned from most workplaces? I doubt even 1% of employers have rules against camera phones.
      • Youd be surprised. Especially with employers that have to be HIPAA compliant. My emloyers policy: No cameras, camera phones, flash drives, flash music players, PDAs etc.
        • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter@gmail . c om> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:58AM (#15113207) Homepage
          "Especially with employers that have to be HIPAA compliant."

          Wierd --

          I am the HIPAA compliance officer with my office, and I have not seen any rules to this extent.

          At the same time, we train our employees and don't expect them to be idiots...but thats just my office. The rest of my organization might have other rules and employees they hire that for some reason they allow access to this data but don't really trust (i.e., there is no way for any of my people to download bulk data -- nor should there ever be for someone that can't be trusted -- and our software is designed so that certain activities like looking up the records of family members or even your own personal records is frowned upon...I actually got a call from the 'boys upstairs' because I was looking up a record of my own -- and that was just to correct erronious data from some tests I had accidently automated with my ID# back when the system was still in the test phase and none of the data was supposed to go forward).

          But yeah, we take HIPAA seriously here -- but we do it in a way that makes sense and not just restricts anyone that might actually have to use technology.
        • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:03AM (#15113239) Homepage Journal
          Wow. Another slashdotter seemingly incapable of distinguishing between "Where I work" and "Most workplaces."

          Clue : The plural of "anecdote" is not "data"
          • Clue : The plural of "anecdote" is not "data"

            Couldn't agree with you more. However allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment. While many technology-focused workplaces, including car companies, and government/military/pharmaceutical companies may have such policies in place, what percentage of the employed population do they really represent? Aren't their headcounts vastly outnumbered by all the restaurants, retial stores, and gas stations that can be found everywhere and don't ban cellphones?

            Maybe w

    • My company has a ban like that. Of course, we design chips, and all our data could just be emailed away easily. Oh and on top of that, many of us have company laptops and can connect to the company network from home. Basically if you are an employee of the company, any data you have access to can be transported out of the company, cell phones or no. Sheesh.
  • Whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:21AM (#15112945)
    any self-respecting phone would incorporate at least a megapixel camera

    Dammit, I've already got a phone (an old Nokia candybar model that has a wonderful interface and battery life and no stupid camera). Any self-respecting phone should be just a phone. If I want to take along my camera, I'll do so.

    I'm hoping my current phone doesn't break so I don't have to involuntarily "upgrade" to the next model which has countless features I don't want and an interface whose designers I want to reciprocally torture by redesigning their TV so that changing channels requires multiple button presses in even the most common case. Gah *head explodes*.

    • You can always just buy your replacement phone on ebay. My favorite is the Siemens A56/A56i.. Just a phone, great reception.. With an external antenna jack (critical for me). I don't know about other cellphone carriers, but with Cingular you can just have a used phone activated. I've done three that way so far, $10 for a phone on ebay, something like $30 to have it activated... You can even have them activated prepaid!
  • k750 from opening lid to photo can be done in 6 or 7 seconds, not 15 or 30 as this piece of well informed journalism states.
  • Metrics please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:23AM (#15112958)

    Camera phones are fast replacing a number of regular phones

    Are they? The "article" quotes no source and no statistics for this claim. How can anyone be sure?

    What does TFA mean by "fast"?

    • "Are they? The "article" quotes no source and no statistics for this claim. How can anyone be sure?"

      A couple of years ago, nobody I knew had one. Today, nearly everybody I know has one. I've spotted a number of people with these phones just walking around town. Okay, it's anecdotal and not a scientific study. Seriously, though, what's so difficult to believe about it? Despite popular belief around here, camera phones really are useful.
    • Latest 20 from the UK Nokia range: http://www.nokia.co.uk/nokia/0,8764,18062,00.html [nokia.co.uk]

      6 of those do not have a camera. There is a mixture of PDA, basic and more advanced phones in there. The one that stood out is the E60 which seems to have a lot of features without turning into a PDA or having a camera.

      • I think the author of the article must be in the US from the summary. My 'phone is about six months old, and has a 2MP camera. At the time I got it, it was not the latest model; it was the cheap one that comes free with a cheap contract. By paying more I could have got a 4MP camera. Looking at the page you linked to, it seems they don't even make my model anymore.

    • When I upgraded my phone (and my wife's phone... she was the real driver, and had used up the battery in her old phone) last summer, the cheapest option for us was a pair of camera phones.

      The cheapest option for the consumer frequently wins. Look at PC-DOS.
    • Camera phones are fast replacing a number of regular phones

      Are they? The "article" quotes no source and no statistics for this claim. How can anyone be sure?

      Well, it is my personal experience that nearly everyone getting a new (GSM) phone gets a camera phone. Contract users often get 'free' phones and 'upgrades' (new phones) on renewing the contracts (often yearly). This means there's not much of a market for cheap, low-featured phones; why pay for a cheap phone with a no colour screen, no camera, no IrDA

  • You pay for it?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lispy (136512) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:24AM (#15112960) Homepage
    Not sure about it in the US, but in Germany I get a new cellphone every year at least if you make ~150 a month for the provider. I can choose from about 80 models and I pay nothing for the latest model.

    You might argue that I pay the phone via my monthly bill, but given the competition I don't think it's true anymore. Basically the phone is pretty much a giveaway for staying with the same provider.

    Cams in mobiles are pretty handy btw. I use it to record information that I would otherwise forget, stuff like the settings of my distortion pedal for my guitar and the like.
    • Not whoring for hits but on my bandsite [blissx.co.uk] you can see some of the pics I took with an old camphone Nokia 7250.
      I kinda like the trashy look of those cheapo optics...

      Please be nice to me, as I am not a native speaker let me know if the lyrics have glaring errors in it. :)
  • by Mantorp (142371) * <mantorp 'funny A' gmail.com> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:26AM (#15112972) Homepage Journal
    He says he took only 20 pictures in 3 months with his 2 mp camera phone. Why the hell is he reviewing cameraphones then?

    I probably take 20 pics per week on mine, I send them to friends and family straight from the phone, sometimes I post things on my family's website from it. I'll never get a phone without a camera.
  • Couple of things - first off I have a 4MP compact digital camera and a 2MP (Sony K750i) camera phone.

    The camera comes with me to 'occasions' - places where I know I'm going to take photos (outings, birthdays, family stuff, etc) - it has a real optical zoom, 1Gb Sd card and flash.

    My phone is with me all the time and so I can take photos of things that catch my eye - landscapes, unexpected events, something fun that happens in the pub - it has only a digital zoom, .5 Gb Memory Stick Pro Duo, no flash (but you
  • by mtg101 (321836) * on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:30AM (#15112996) Journal
    Having a 2 megapixel camera is pretty pointless if you only use it to put a picture of your partner on the phone's main screen, or to send multimedia messages (which reduces the quality to something like VGA quality).

    However if you can get the image from the phone to an internet site like Flickr, TextAmerica, Kodak, &c, then it is worth having a 2 megapixel image, just like it's worth having a decent amount of megapixels for your regular digital camera. The higher quality is useful for displaying on a PC, or for printing the photo, and so on.

    Unfortunately it's very hard to get your pictures from your phone to the internet. Email and WAP uploaders have proved not good enough for this task, and hardly anyone does this.

    A new generation of software is emerging on phones though. Services like ShoZu [shozu.com] allow you to upload full quality images from your phone to sites like Flickr, TextAmerica, &c, in a very simple manner, and also allow editing of titles, descriptions and even tags both before and after upload. With this sort of service on your phone it really is worth having a decent camera in your phone.
  • I had a Samsung D500 phone with a 1 Megapixel camera. The quality was superb and I was really impressed with it. The phone had to go though because that was the only good feature, it wasn't even useful as a phone. I got a Nokia 6230i with a 1.3 Megapixel camera. I'm still stunned at how bad the quality of the pictures are.

    Basically, if you're going to buy something on the strength of the inbuilt camera, make sure the quality of the pictures is actually good.
  • They all suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:36AM (#15113031) Homepage
    I dont care if you can get a 30 megapixel phone, It's images will suck.

    The only way they can get lenses in these things is to either use the ceramic lenses or tiny plastic lenses at fixed focus and the image will stink no matter what.

    I have an old Fuji S1 3 megapixel digiatal camera in my closet that will kick the crap out of the highest megapixel point and shoot on the market today simply because I can plop a $1000.00 lens on it.

    90% of the image is in the optics and ALL cameraphones have crappy optics simply because there is no room for the real stuff.

    Unless people want to put a SLR up to their head to talk Cameraphones will always stink at photo's.
    • I do agree with the intent of your post, but always is a long time.

      >Unless people want to put a SLR up to their head to talk Cameraphones will always stink at photo's.
      I think you forget cameras don't require/haven't always had lenses. I can see with HDTV that they are using fixed lenses, and everything is in focus. Eventually the tech will be their (cheaper anyway) to tell what direction light is coming from without a bulky lense directing it. and a 30 MP flatsurface is all you will need to have every
    • Re:They all suck (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clonmult (586283)
      No, they DON'T all suck.

      The SE K750, W800, Nokia N90 (with Zeiss optics), Sharp 902, are all good examples of 2mp autofocus camera phones that take decent pictures.

      The upcoming SE K790/K800, Sharp 903 are 3mp camera phones that also take decent pictures. I seem to remember that the Sharp also had an optical zoom.
    • > because I can plop a $1000.00 lens on it.

      And if I had a budget of $1000 for photography equipment, that might matter to me.

      Look; yes, cell phone cameras suck. With one of the best on the market (SE K750i), I get photos that are best described as "acceptable". However, if it's a choice between an "okayish" picture, and none at all (because carrying a camera regularly isn't something I do), I'll take okayish.

      I would never suggets replacing a good camera with a phone camera, nor would I consider it a crit
  • Of course they suck..... it's a camera-phone! All manufactured goods have limits.... size.... cost... etc.... If phone makers wanted to integrate a camera that was as good as a standalone digital they'd either have to sacrifice something... like battery life or call quality. Since people still buy camera-phones primarily as phones of course the camera function is going to suck.
  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:41AM (#15113061)
    I just want a phone with a gigabyte of flash memory and bluetooth capability to be able to mount as a drive and store data on.
  • A Camera is a Tool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by natoochtoniket (763630) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:41AM (#15113065)
    We use white boards for brainstorming sessions, almost every day. Then, we use a digital camera to capture the image into our documentation. Many of our software requirements and design documents have embedded pictures, which are mostly produced with digital cameras from whiteboard drawings.

    We used to use a regular digital camera, and just keep one in each conference room. But they kept growing legs, getting misplaced, needing batteries, or just malfunctioning. Cameras that are owned by individuals have the advantage that the individual actually takes care of the thing, so it is much more likely to be available and work when it is needed.

    The key to any tool is to use it appropriately. A camera can be misused, such as to transmit confidential material to a competitor. A camera can also be very useful, to record and communicate drawings within the company.

    Banning cameras does not protect the confidential information, unless the organization also bans email, removable disks, printers, paper, and briefcases. Only two things are actually accomplished by banning any specific tool: It makes the organization less productive; And it tells the people that they are not trusted. Both effects are counter-productive.

  • by Chicane-UK (455253) <[chicane-uk] [at] [ntlworld.com]> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:48AM (#15113112) Homepage
    I have to say I feel it was entirely worth it.

    Firstly i'm not coming on to defend my purchase. To be honest the phone was free anyway on a contract upgrade I needed to make so I thought i'd go for it.

    The phone is a Nokia N70 and, for all of its foibles (including the incredibly annoying slide open camera activation / lens protection cover) the camera stands out as a superb product.

    I'd love to link to an image i've taken from it but fear the slashdot effect would ruin me on hosting charges.. but under the right conditions (ie NOT night time) the camera returns impressive pictures. Yes, in low light it makes everything look incredibly washed out - yes the delay is enormous on taking a picture - but in good average daylight conditions pictures come back looking almost as good as those of my old 2MP Olympus point and shoot which i've since retired.

    One of the 'points' of camera phones for me was just having a camera with you at all times in case something unusual happened - be that a car accident (and you need to record photographic evidence of the scene), a good sunset, etc - the increase in MP allows you to do this more and more - previous generations meant that the picture was only 640x480 or so and this didn't really allow you to get the whole picture across!

    Cheers.
  • This article is FUD.

    I use my mobilep hone camera, it's a lousy 1MP. Using a 2MP camera phone really makes it possible to see details and colours. You can argue that this has nothing to do with the amount of Mega Pixels your camera has; e.g. the lense, the CMOS area, is more important etc etc. But more megapixels usually means better quality.

    Should you buy a new phone just because it's a 2MP camera, why not! If you take pictures, tell my why I wouldn't want them in better resolution?

    Last year amounted to 20M
  • Not going to happen.

    Almost every cellular phone company that is not based in Japan competes with the ones who are.

    I have seen 2 models of cellular phone here in Japan without a camera built in. Both of those models are meant for "old people". It's simply a keypad with an lcd display so you can double czech the number you are calling. Keys are big for people who have a hard time pushing these tiny buttons. Even the latest phones designed for elementary school children have cameras and gps built into them
  • by rlk (1089) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:09AM (#15113274)
    Image quality is limited by optics and by the size (overall size -- in millimeters) of the sensor. With trashy optics and a tiny sensor, it doesn't matter how many (ever tinier) pixels one jams onto that sensor; the image quality just won't be there.

    I advise people who want a point and shoot (which has a much bigger sensor than a cell phone, but much smaller than an SLR) to not bother with more than 3 megapixels or so. There are some expensive "advanced" non-SLR digital cameras that have sensors comparable to SLR sensors, but most point and shoot cameras have sensors no more than 1/2" on the diagonal. Most digital SLR's are about 1.2" diagonal, and 35 mm SLR's (such as film cameras and the EOS 5D and 1Ds digital cameras) are a bit less than 2" on the diagonal.

    The basic issue here is the pixel size, which (along with lens speed) controls how much light the pixel can gather. The larger the pixel, the more light it can gather and the less noise it will have. There's also the wavelength of light to consider; as the pixel gets smaller, the ability to resolve between neighboring pixels becomes less.

    The sweet spot for digital SLR's with APS-C sensors with 1.5 or 1.6 cropping factors (such as the low to midrange Canon and Nikon cameras) seems to be about 8-10 megapixels. Canon's latest offering (the 30D) stayed at 8 MP. The Nikon D200 is 10 megapixels, but it's noisier at high ISO settings than the 20D/30D. This would suggest that full-frame (35 mm) digital SLR's won't get much above 20 megapixels (based on pixel size), and you'll have to go to medium format to get much more than that. If the Foveon sensor ever gets perfected the marketing numbers will triple (since each position would have a sensor for each color), but the grid won't change.

    It's possible to reduce noise by lowering the effective ISO (in other words, allowing more light into the sensor by requiring longer exposures). So while the EOS 20D has excellent noise performace even at ISO 800, a typical point and shoot (with its tiny sensor) will be very noisy above ISO 100 or 200.

    Finally, there's the matter of the lens. My own tests suggest that I only get the full 8 megapixel resolution out of the 20D if I use a good lens (such as the 85 f/1.8 or 200 f/2.8 prime lenses), well stopped down and very carefully focused, and otherwise in good conditions (on a tripod or with a very short exposure). I recently took a shot at sunset with a 1 second exposure at f/16 with my 200 mm lens and there was very sharp single pixel detail. Even slight blur will very quickly reduce the useful pixel count; if it's blurred to the extent that there's no useful detail at less than 2 pixel resolution, you're effectively at the 2 megapixel level.

    So what does all of this mean? Camera phones have tiny sensors, with cheap lenses, and can't have long exposures. However many pixels the sensor may have, I'd be surprised if the effective resolution of the output is more than a few hundred thousand pixels.
  • by pNutz (45478) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:10AM (#15113283)
    obligitory onion reference
    The Camera-Phone [theonion.com]
  • 2-megapixel is "cutting edge"? Last time I made a post about Japanese cell phones being better than the ones in the West, I got a bunch of replies telling me that "I was wrong", "if they're better, why haven't they taken over the market" and so on.

    But, I haven't lived in North America for a while, so I honestly don't know. Is 2-megapixel "cutting edge"? Is that how pathetic cameras are in the West? My current 3G Japanese cell phone is by no means top of the line (it cost less than one American cent, and
  • of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BenjyD (316700) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:35AM (#15113432)
    Of course megapixels don't mean much without the optics to match. Compare these two images [benroe.com], both taken at 640x480. Spotting the photo taken on the Treo isn't hard...
  • Cutting edge is not 2 mega pixel, it at least 3. Check out the SonyEricsson K790a [sonyericsson.com], it has a 3.2 MP camera and is actually branded as a CyberShot digital camera. And phone. If you don't know it, CyberShot is Sony's digital camera brand. CyberShot cameras are generally good, but admittedly I haven't tried the new phone. Of course to review the cameras you have to do a thorough job.
    I'd wait until someone like Philip Askey of dpreview.com [dpreview.com] or Steve's Digicams [steves-digicams.com] made a favorable review. At least if it's a camera yo
  • The cellphone manufacturers, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that everyone wants a damned camera attached to the cellphone. That is certainly not true in my case! I have no use for a cellphone camera, and some places where I have worked recently don't allow them on site, which means that I have to check my cellphone at the front desk.

    If the cellphone makers would just offer each model sans camera, maybe a couple of dollars cheaper, they might just be surprized at how few people actually want one. Th

  • by LS (57954) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:11PM (#15114730) Homepage
    * It's not about the number of pixels, it's about the lense and camera design
    * I just want a PHONE that is a PHONE goddammit
    * blah blah blah

    For those who believe humans have free will, slashdot provides plenty of evidence to the contrary. I think I've seen these same posts modded up in a dozen different stories about camera phones. It reminds of the dilbert cartoon where the most overused phrase is how "swimming is the best form of exercise".

    LS

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